Your source for CAWG and industry news
 July 26, 2018
CALENDAR

August 8
CAWG Annual Dinner and Winegrape Night Harvest, Clarksburg

November 7-8
CAWG Board of Directors meeting and CAWG PAC event, Santa Ynez


 
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THE FRONT PAGE 
$12 Billion Approved to Assist Farmers Hit by Retaliatory Tariffs
 
USDA announced this week that it will take several actions to assist farmers impacted by unjustified retaliation. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was directed by President Trump to develop a short-term relief strategy to protect farmers while the administration works on free, fair and reciprocal trade deals. USDA will authorize up to $12 billion in programs, which is in line with the estimated $11 billion impact of the unjustified retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods. "This is a short-term solution to allow President Trump time to work on long-term trade deals to benefit agriculture and the entire U.S. economy," Perdue said in a  press release

CAWG President John Aguirre said, "We appreciate that President Trump and Secretary Perdue recognize that escalating tariffs has produced real economic harm for farmers. However, the proposed package of government subsidies is no substitute for the kind of export driven growth we experienced with NAFTA and could have had with the Trans Pacific Partnership. We need to recommit to resolving trade disputes through negotiations and multilateral trade agreements."

>ARTICLE:  California farmers skeptical about Trump farm aid (Sacramento Bee, July 24)



Multi-Million Dollar Campaign Against Tariffs
 
To show how the trade war is causing extensive economic problems for American agriculture, Farmers for Free Trade is kicking off a four-month, $2.5 million campaign. The group created a new website --  tariffshurt.com -- which features its new TV ad and allows visitors to upload a video or send a message to lawmakers. The campaign also includes digital, radio and print ads, as well as town hall meetings across the country.   
 


Governor's Proposal Would Reduce Future Wildfire Liability for PG&E 
 
Gov. Brown on Tuesday submitted a proposal to the  Wildfire Preparedness and Response Legislative Conference Committee. In his letter to committee co-chairs, Brown said the proposal aims to "help prevent wildfires and deal with the rising costs of wildfires to the public" and "strengthens existing law and builds on legislation currently moving through the process." According to a Santa Rosa Press Democrat article, a key point of contention on the issue is the current state policy, called inverse condemnation, that holds utilities liable for wildfire damages even when they are not deemed negligent. The article stated that the proposal, which applies to fires after Jan. 1, 2018, would allow judges to determine "whether the utility acted reasonably" in awarding damages in cases in which electrical equipment is a "substantial cause of the fire."
 


Government Relations Report
 
FIRE INSURANCE COVERAGE MAY CHANGE 
When the October 2017 wine country fires were finally extinguished, the first thing many homeowners and business owners did was to contact their insurance companies. Some fire victims were happy with the response from the insurance companies, others were not. Consequently, lawmakers from Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties carried legislation this year to address various deficiencies.  
 
It is generally believed that insurance coverage has improved as a direct result of lessons learned from the fires. However, that may dramatically change as some insurance companies are now threatening large rate increases or to pull out of the market all together because of pending legislation in Sacramento.  
 
At issue is the question of inverse condemnation, a fancy way of saying "with great power comes great responsibility." As utilities have the right to take property through eminent domain they are also liable for any wildfire damage traced to their equipment - even if they were not negligent in maintaining it.
 
Insurance companies and fire victims want to keep the inverse condemnation law in place - seeing the enormous liability it creates as an incentive for utilities to do everything possible to make the electrical system safe. 
 
Currently, insurance companies pay their policy-holders after a disaster, then turn to utilities for reimbursement. However, if utilities are successful in pushing through legislation to give utilities relief from inverse condemnation law, insurance companies may decide the risk in California is just too great.

-- Michael Miiller / michael@cawg.org / 916-379-8995  


Winegrapes No. 3 in Santa Barbara County
 
Winegrapes were the third highest valued crop in Santa Barbara County in 2017 -- behind strawberries and broccoli -- with a gross production value of $146.1 million. The top five varieties by  value were: pinot noir (5,751 harvested acres; 20,186 tons; $51.5 million total value); chardonnay (7,566 harvested acres; 23,228 tons; $42.4 million); syrah (1,985 harvested acres; 5,598 tons; $11.2 million); sauvignon blanc (810 harvested acres; 3,272 tons; $5.4 million); and grenache (518 harvested acres; 2,238 tons; $5.1 million).
 


In Memoriam: Doug Gubler
 
We were saddened to learn of the July 19 passing of Dr. Doug Gubler, former UC Cooperative Extension specialist and a leading expert in his field. CAWG joined the many who praised Gubler for his significant contributions to the winegrape industry. The UC Davis  Department of Plant Pathology wrote that Doug and his team made important discoveries, including  innovations in management of Botrytis bunch rot, development of the Gubler-Thomas risk assessment model for powdery mildew, and characterization of the complex etiology of canker and vine decline diseases in grapes. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and colleagues. Photo: UC Department of Plant Pathology.
 


Ag Worker-Owned Trust Presents New Labor Model
 
An  article in Fast Company highlights a new company called California Harvesters, a worker-centered farm labor enterprise structured as an employee benefit trust. The company -- which has already recruited 450 farmworkers -- is the brainchild of Renewable Resources Group, a Los Angeles-based asset management firm with interests in water and agriculture.
 

INDUSTRY ARTICLES
VINEYARDS & WINE
 
Article about Nat DiBuduo, Jeff Bitter, the organization and industry challenges.
Western Farm Press, July 25

Highlights 15 research projects approved for funding.

AGRICULTURE

CAWG Members were among the meeting participants.
CDFA Planting Seeds blog, July 20

GOVERNMENT
 
The act -- which for 45 years has safeguarded fragile wildlife while blocking ranching, logging and oil drilling on protected habitats -- is coming under attack from lawmakers, the White House and industry on a scale not seen in decades. CAWG member Brad Goehring is quoted.
New York Times, July 22

WATER & WEATHER
Farm Bureau Issues Action Alert on "Stopping the Water Grab"
 
The California Farm Bureau Federation is urging farmers to send a personal message to the California State Water Resources Control Board regarding revisions to proposed Bay-Delta Plan Amendments. The alert says: " If adopted, the board's proposed 'unimpaired flow amendments' to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan would  devastate agriculture, local economies and communities up and down the state  that rely on that water." 

Winegrape growers are invited to participate. Messages should be submitted by Friday, July 27. A rally relating to the issue is scheduled for Aug. 20 at noon at the State Capitol. 

 

>ACTION ALERT

 

Articles and Resources
 
Wildfires have consequences for the management of water, including the amount and quality of supply, and the potential for flooding.
Public Policy Institute of California

The Brown administration is expected to commit nearly $1 billion to build two huge dam projects in the Bay Area and another $1.5 billion for six more big water projects from the Sacramento Valley to Bakersfield.
Mercury News, July 23
 


RESOURCES
Scorching Temps! Cal/OSHA Says Be Prepared
 

With the National Weather Service issuing  excessive heat warnings for regions throughout California, Cal/OSHA is urging all employers to protect their employees and prevent heat illness. In addition, it is crucial that supervisors are effectively trained on emergency procedures in case a worker gets sick and needs immediate treatment.



UPCOMING EVENTS
2018 Fresno State Grape Day

An informal workshop and field day at Fresno State for grape growers, managers, winemakers and winery personnel. Includes lab and winery tour, plus Fresno State wine tasting. Pre-register by July 30.
 
WHEN: Aug. 7 / 7 a.m. - 1 p.m.
COST: $20